The generosity of people this week has been mind blowing. There’s times when we feel a little worn out, a little anxious about who our next ride or host is going to be, but weeks like this make it all worthwhile.
Everyone has an opinion on places to see and places to skip in the states (and around the world!), and lots of people had said that there ‘wasn’t much in the Dakotas’. If we weren’t doing this trip we may have been inclined to believe them, but by embracing whatever comes our way and setting out to see all the states, including the ones that others think we should miss, we’ve really been opened up to such beauty in so many unexpected places.
Without further ado, a thank you to some of the beautiful people in those beautiful places.
This is Angie, standing in front of the ranch she built by hand with her late husband, holding one of her four ridiculously cute puppies. Angie picked us up from the side of the road when we weren’t even hitch hiking, deciding she couldn’t just drive passed us carrying our bags in that heat. Learning we were aiming to go to Mount Rushmore, she agreed that if we helped unload her car at home she would take us the whole way. There began a 24 hour whirlwind where we not only saw Mount Rushmore, but ended up staying with Angie on her ranch and being given her car, filled with gas and a cooler of drinks and snacks, to go off on our own to see the Badlands of South Dakota. We couldn’t believe our luck! Not simply because Angie was spoiling us with such incredible generosity, but because we have never met a person who, despite such hardship and difficult circumstances, has risen above it all with an unmatched sense of strength, positivity and love. We spent the evening enjoying hard lemonade on the porch, watching the lightning roll in through the clouds, discussing everything and anything. I would love to continue to write all about Angie’s life – memories that brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat – but they are not my stories to tell and I can only hope you one day have the pleasure of meeting Angie for yourself.
Once Jackie had dropped us back in Rapid City, we began hitching again for a five hour journey to Sioux Falls. Picking us up – reluctantly! “Are you going to kill me?” he asked us repeatedly – was Patrick, an ex-cop who played music so loud in his truck for the entire five hours that his speakers had blown…! 🙂
We didn’t manage a picture of Kurt because it was dark and he had to rush dropping us off but he had the most beautiful truck we had ever seen! Matt white and pimped out with a full sound system and glossy wood finish on the inside. Faaaancy. He clearly took as much pride in that as he did about his kids, grandchildren, photography and writing short stories.
Pick Up Truck Guy
We slept that night in a tent in the Omaha truck station then had a particularly stressful day. By the time we were collected in the pickup truck we were so ecstatic not to be spending another night there that we forgot all details and even to take a picture! Thank you wholeheartedly nonetheless to pick-up man, wherever and whoever you may be…
Picked up again by the time it was getting dark, Eli was the most exuberant, eccentric trucker we’d ever met. Let’s just say he fed us boiled eggs and ice cream as we listened to loud techno music and swerved around the highway…despite there being nothing to swerve… 🙂
When you’ve had a difficult day and some…interesting!…journeys, you want an amazing Couchsurfing host to make it all okay again. Brett was our man in Kansas City. Designer by day, bike tinkerer by night, coffee drinker and crayon doodler at the weekends, Brett knows the best places to go in Kansas City and even took us to a load of them! Such a dream we ended up staying three nights instead of one. He even managed to score us our next lift ALL the way to Denver (10 hours!) just by chatting to the guy at the next pump at the gas station when dropping us off. Win!
Sometimes the idea of spending 10 hours in a car with someone you’ve just met isn’t the best in the world, but Johnny was not only hilarious and fun, he was generous enough to spend his evening taking us out to a sports bar, the night hosting us at his home in Denver, and the entire next day taking us up Pike’s Peak – a 14,110ft mountain in the Rockies. Talk about an absolute WIN for a random meeting in a gas station!
What an amazing week.